All Geek to Me

September 29, 2006

Nokia UI Shortcomings

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 6:34 pm

I have a Nokia cellphone. From a UK perspective it is an unusual Nokia design as it a clamshell; a form-factor normally associated with other manufacturers. Overall, I am happy with it, although it is possible to accidentally activate the camera, which does not help battery life. The clamshell does prevent accidental calling, a curse of candy-bar form factors.

There is one aspect of the Nokia interface, however, that now frustrates me after using a Windows Smartphone for eighteen months. Moreover, the shortcoming is in a core feature; address book searching. The Windows Smartphone used a form of predictive text searching in the address book. If you pressed 2, it would show everyone with a,b,c in their name; if you then pressed 5 it would filter down to aj,ak,al,bj,bk,bl,cj,ck,cl. With a third press you would have further filtered the options and normally could see the person you wanted on screen, since most of the twenty-seven possible combinations you have selected are not likely to occur in names. If you pressed 4, only alh,ali,bli, and cli are likely matches. The Nokia however searches using the traditional multi-key press, so if you are looking for Clinton in your address book, three key presses will have got you as far as showing everyone in your address book with names beginning with C.

It may not be common to suggest that Nokia needs to learn about UI design from Microsoft, but this definitely one area where they should do so.

September 18, 2006

Context Search

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 6:04 pm

I use Opera as my default browser and have done so for several years. I started using Opera because I like tabbed browsing; a feature now supported by most of its competitors. I have continued to use it because of its strong support for control from the keyboard.

One feature I have not utilized until recently, but am finding invaluable now, is the ability to extend the in-browser search facilities. Opera has a search bar, into which you can type text and it will use your default search engine or any from a list of options. The user can easily add to this list. There is a hot key that gives this field focus.

However, it is not this field that I am finding so useful. If you select and right-click text in Opera, the context menu includes an option to use your default search engine on the text, or to search with any of the other search engines. I have set up Google Maps as a search engine. When reviewing job adverts I can select the name of the location, right click and select Search With… Google Maps. I can then see where the job is located.

Opera Context Search

EDIT: The search string that causes this to work is as follows:
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=%s

Geek Score 8/10

September 14, 2006

iTunes Version 7

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 3:38 pm

I downloaded the latest version, 7.0, of Apple’s iTunes. The new version supports movies and iPod games. Even if I had a video capable iPod, I cannot imagine using it to watch TV shows, let alone full length movies. Since the display of my iPod is monochrome, I doubt the unit will play the games. This means that the only new feature that I can use is the browsing through music by album cover; cool and geeky but pointless. The new version of the software has a subtly redesigned look to the interface and the colour of the note on the icon has changed to blue; both of these changes are for the better.

The new version, however, shares a problem with all of the previous downloads. Quicktime is a required part of the download and when it installs itself it insists in appearing in the system tray, ignoring my selection made on the previous version. How hard is it for upgrade software to pay attention to user preferences of earlier versions?

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